Seven Days of Deals
Today marks the start of what is sure to be a frenzied seven days for the New York art world. Beginning with the Frieze preview today, continuing with TEFAF's opening tomorrow, and culminating with the sale of the Rockefeller collection at Christie's next week, a lot of art- and even more money- will be changing hands over the next week.
Luckily for everyone involved, we at The Canvas took it upon ourselves to scout out the weather report for the foreseeable future in the hopes of staving off the biblical flooding we all experienced on Randall's Island last year. And even though there does appear to be some precipitation expected on Saturday and Sunday (anyone who reads this newsletter will already be done with the fairs by then anyway), the forecast is mostly sunny.
Yet while the next week promises bright skies, The Canvas can't help but feel that storm clouds are gathering in the distance. Within the past ten days David Zwirner suggested that large international galleries should subsidize younger galleries' participation in fairs, two well known collectors have very publicly sued Gagosian for failing to deliver Jeff Koons sculptures they ordered, and Andrea Rosen and Luhring Augustine Gallery are in the news not for art, but for selling the Chelsea building they jointly owned and reaping a 1650% return on their initial investment.
The closing of physical gallery spaces, the viability of the art fair model for younger galleries, and the revolt by collectors against one of the most well known and successful dealers- all three of these issues question some of the most core tenets that the modern art world is built upon. If these cracks in the foundation aren't remedied soon, then we could all find ourselves watching the building come crumbling down in the way-too-near-future.
The Three Things People are Talking About
At the Art Leaders Network Conference organized by the New York Times, David Zwirner very publicly (and somewhat shockingly) suggested that art fairs should impose a tax on the major galleries that participate in order to subsidize smaller galleries that normally can't afford the costs associated with exhibiting at one of the major fairs on the international circuit. Art Basel's Global Director, Marc Spiegler later seemed to push back a bit in The Art Newspaper. “Until now, I’ve never heard the most successful galleries publicly say they were worried about their younger peers, and offer to counterbalance the consolidation within the art market,” he tells The Art Newspaper. He seems to go on to suggest that large galleries poaching artists from small galleries just when their careers are beginning to take off is also a large part of the problem. Needless to say, the full article is a must-read.
Galleries pushing back the delivery dates for large pieces by in-demand artists (such as Jeff Koons) is not a new phenomenon. What is somewhat new is that two well known collectors (Steven Tananbaum and Joel Silver) would so publicly sue a heavyweight such as Gagosian over these delays. And while the suits themselves are filled with dramatic language- "When the curtain is pulled back, ‘Something is rotten in the state of Denmark’" writes Tananbaum's lawyer- the details of the complaint are somewhat droll and ordinary. Pushed back delivery dates, threats to forfeit the hefty deposits on the pieces, and back and forth emails between Koons assistants, Gagosian associates, and Tananbaum’s art advisor Sandy Heller are all relatively run of the mill. Ultimately, The Canvas feels the real blame here lies with Gagosian's sizable communications department. There is no excuse for a gallery with the resources and manpower that Gagosian has to have let this play out in the court of public opinion in such a messy and convoluted manner. Mainstream news publications (in addition to all the art news publications) are covering the story with Gagosian's narrative being absent from all the resulting coverage. For whatever reason, it seems like the Gagosian press shop has been behind the curve every step of the way on this one. Check out Artnet News for the latest on the suits here and here.
Twenty one years after paying $1.6 million for a 10,000 square foot garage, Andrea Rosen and Luhring Augustine Gallery have sold their shared building for $28 million. Rosen closed her gallery last year and is currently in charge of the estate of Felix Gonzalez-Torres, which she co-represents with David Zwirner. Luhring Augustine on the other hand still has a physical presence in the building and is considering leasing back the space until the middle of next year. Katya Kazakina and Caleb Melby over at Bloombergdeserve credit for unearthing this story. Check out the full piece for its greater context about what this sale portends for Chelsea galleries and their seemingly never-ending rent increases.
Five Gallery Shows to See During Frieze
The Party Circuit
Fifth Annual Village Fete Honoring Werner Herzog at Pioneer Works (Spotted: Dustin Yellin, Michael Shannon, Sarah Arison, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Werner Herzog, Stacey Bendet)
Opening and Afterparty for Takashi Murakami at Perrotin New York (Spotted: JR, Daniel Boulud, Takashi Murakami, KAWS)
Stephen Posen "Threads Paintings from the 1960s and '70s" at Vito Schnabel Projects (Spotted: Uma Thurman, Huma Abedin, Katie Holmes, and Stephen, Susan and Zac Posen)
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